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Values & Education

The Choice Is Theirs

We have all traveled for a family function and are surrounded by aunts, uncles, cousins, grandparents and the like. When my kids’ turn for taking bath comes, I call them to choose their clothes to wear for the function. My daughter keeps dilly-dallying between two dresses testing my patience. I keep hurrying her up to choose a dress to wear. One of my nephews, who is about eight years elder to my kids, looks at me, surprised. Then he blurts out this – “Chithi.. Why can’t you choose a dress for her? That’s what my mother does. She doesn’t give us a choice at all. She just picks one dress and makes sure we wear it!”

Giving Your Child Choices - The Choice Is Theirs - Parenting Lessons

I smile at him. But, this question made me think. I recounted in the various choices I let the kids make. They choose their own clothes to wear daily. When we go shopping, we take them along and let them choose their own clothes / food items. Of course, we do restrain them from eyeing stuff that is beyond our means or are not so healthy or not worth the money. Mostly, food choices are theirs too; that is they choose to eat within whatever is cooked / healthy / available at home.

My daughter has such unruly hair. I like her hair short because it’s easier to maintain. But, she likes it long. I had inhibitions at first but I slowly let her be. It is a big chore for me but I believe these small things that make her happy shouldn’t be hampered by my laziness. Similarly, most of the time, I ask the kids what books to read, what activities to do or what classes they’d like to go before signing up for them. Yes.. There are times when I order them to do / eat something; but I also let them make their own choices.

On this, I ask myself a lot of questions. Should I really take care of their choices? Would it not solve a lot of headache and save a lot of time if I take care of their choices? Oh yes.. And, the tantrums would go down like nothing else, wouldn’t it? I know it definitely would. Then, why am I doing it?

First, because it is a habit. Right from clothes to education, I was left to choose my own stuff when growing up. My parents did interfere by giving their opinions but never really made the decisions on my behalf. I have made some good small decisions and some big blunders. But, they’ve always been a learning more than a mistake. All of us, children and adults, learn by mistakes. If every act of ours goes well without any hitches, we would learn nothing in life at all. Children, being children, learn quicker and don’t get bogged down by mistakes. And, the sooner they learn, the better, isn’t it?

Beyond all this philosophical gyan, I think making their own choices gives children a sense of responsibility. It makes them feel grown up. In my opinion, these are just small joys of life that a child is entitled to have which will go a long way in making them informed decision making adults as well. So, I chose to bear the tantrums to see those dimpled cheeks of these small beings. Why not? When their smiles gives us as much happiness!

Indu is a dreamer by nature; a (former) chartered accountant by profession; and a writer by passion. Her life right now, revolves around her four year old twin boy and girl. The two naughty siblings love to play their pranks on her every day, making her both smile and wince at once. She loves to leave a trail of her life at her blog